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Rumsfeld wins air assurances

Wed., July 27, 2005, midnight

Dushanbe, Tajikistan Two Central Asian countries pledged Tuesday to allow the United States to keep flight operations in their countries that are crucial to the ongoing U.S. military effort in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld held separate meetings with leaders in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The public assurances marked an official turnaround by the countries, both of which on July 5 joined Russia, China, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in recommending a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops. The United States has used the bases and air access rights since the 2001 war in Afghanistan.

U.S. returns stolen altarpiece to Peru

Washington A 400-year-old carved and painted altarpiece, 10 feet high and weighing about 1,000 pounds, was returned to the government of Peru on Tuesday after it was stolen from a church in Peru and put on sale in Santa Fe, N.M.

The piece, made between 1575 and 1595, comes from the town of Challapampa, near Peru’s border with Bolivia. Peruvian authorities called it an important example of Spanish colonial art, carved by Pedro de Vargas and painted by Bernardo Bitti, an Italian Jesuit who worked in Latin America.

It was offered for sale by a gallery in Santa Fe, N.M. for $600,000 when American authorities recovered it.

Zimbabwe snubs U.N., proceeds with cleanup

Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean authorities demolished huts and evicted people west of the capital Tuesday, witnesses said, defying U.N. demands to halt the much condemned urban renewal program that the world body says has left 700,000 people homeless or without a job.

In Geneva, the Red Cross asked for $1.9 million to provide emergency relief to victims of the devastating government-led cleanup. It said the money was for tents, blankets, soap, mosquito nets, water and purifying tablets for the homeless.

The government of President Robert Mugabe made no comment about the demolitions and evictions – part of a larger program that began in May to clear out urban slums.


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